Just got back from a controlled, input/feedback forum on addressing West Louisville's violent crime from a community level.
Given there was a filled basement in the King Solomon Baptist Church, I'd say there's a lot of concerned adults and community residents regarding the scope of the problem and what to do about it.
I've got a number of meta-thoughts about how useful such gatherings are, although I have to commend Minister Jerald Muhammad and brother James Linton on sticking to format and schedule.
Here's what I see and here is what Narrow The Gap! is going to do to contribute to solutions. I see the gun violence, the shootings, the murders, on three levels that demand to be addressed: Neutralization, Intervention and Prevention.
As of tonight, there have 118 homicides in Louisville Metro, the highest number since 1971.
Neutralization is, in my mind, the most immediate and apparent issue of address. Most community residents in the hood talk family responsibility, or about programs working with poor kids who have got a lot of lack in their homes and their hoods...but all that misses something big: if you want to stop the killing, you have (to have a strategy and means) to stop the killers! Neutralization is identifying shooters and the most likely shooters, people that we know are directly affiliated with problems in our community—and removing those threats. Rhetoric about the evils of the prison/industrial complex, while real, are irrelevant here. Our community is done material harm by these actions and our people suffer. A person will take a lifetime attempting to atone for murder, because that is something that can never be taken back. Restitution can be made for stolen goods. A lot of injuries from attacks can heal. Murder can't.
I have said it before, and I will repeat it. In the most violent areas where there has been crime, the people need to self-declare the equivalent of martial law and engage in activity to neutralize crime and to identify prime suspects who deserve to be removed from our communities.
Intervention is the next layer of address: the ability to "interrupt" and intervene in personal conflicts between individuals and/or gangs and get all parties to stand down. It is not easy work, it takes training and people that have standing and respect in the community to be able to do it successfully. Dr. Eddie Woods has been doing such intervention work for years. He needs more resources for his team. The Louisville chapter of the Nation of Islam has a local conflict resolution hotline, the Squash The Beef Hotline at (502) 233-7544. I am a believer that community groups and those that work in governmental agencies that profess to want to curb our neighborhoods' violence would be well-served to embrace the principles of Cure Violence, at cureviolence.org.
Prevention is an activity that many, many community organizations are engaged in. It will be an ongoing project of Narrow The Gap! to record all of the Louisville-area organization involved with preventative programming, and we shall continue to share their upcoming events and calls for support and assistance. A more organized gathering of who's doing what and how they are doing it can provide opportunities for more efficiency of process, so that we do not have too many groups overlapping service areas, groups of people, or engaging in time conflicts of schedule. It should now be obvious that the times are too critical for the limited resources that we have to remain inefficient and underutilized.
Narrow The Gap! is committed to development and to technological solutions. We shall be able the business of gathering and maintaining data for the purpose of better community organization and efficiency. We have to make progress on this.
Addendum (12/16/2016): Here were a number of ideas that were shared from the community feedback. These ideas would be condensed into a 10 point plan.
(1) Sponsor a neighborhood cleanup.
(2) Sponsor youth snow and ice removal
(3) School Bus Stop Monitoring Program
(4) People of the community to put Jesus Christ first.
(5) Prayer, Fast and Work (Bishop Dennis V. Lyons)
(6) Community leaders to come and work together.
(7) Adopt-a-Block: neighbors taking ownership of their block.
(8) Invest in children other than your own.
(9) Gun safety campaign, even among illegal gun owners.
(10) Address gang culture and violence.
(11) Invest in our own financial institutions.
(12) Promote cooperative economic.
(13) Landlord Tax - excise tax on landlords and use funds to support community maintenance.
(14) Join Metro Council Boards - putting the community at the table.
(15) Run for political office - political empowerment. [#14 - Ted Gatlin Jr.]
(16) Moral and ethics training for youth.
(17) Take Back Our City for Christ Campaign (Gideons Int'l)
(18) Invest in a youth activity center(s).
(19) Ride the bus to engage and learn about the youth.
(20) Sponsor motivation speakers.
(21) Effectively promote meeting solutions.
(22) On-bus Monitor Program.
(23) Promote parental rights.
(24) Support increase gun control laws.
(25) Phone Link Network among neighbors to share community info.
(26) Better home-training and more discipline (Youth participant)